A visit to Rome, Italy may seem like an overwhelming experience with its rich history and endless landmarks to see. But Rome is best treasured when one takes their time to sit back and breathe in the lavish culture. Your trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting the greatest and most famous ruin, The Colosseum or tossing your wish into the stunning, picturesque Fontana di Trevi.
However, if you’re looking for a relaxing way to spend your days in the ancient city, here are some guidelines to add tranquility to your trip and get a feel of how today’s Romans live.
1. Terme di Caracalla – Baths of Caracalla
Bathing in ancient Rome was a communal activity praised as a high art and time for socializing. The Baths of Caracalla were once a thriving destination in AD 216. Comprised of baths, gyms, libraries, gardens, and shops – it hosted up to 8,000 people on a daily basis. The public baths remained in use up until the 6th century, but much of the building was destroyed in the Earthquake of AD 847. Today, the area is a great place to take a gander into the vivid history at your own pace. The structure remains well preserved with enormous arches that depict the magnificent architecture of ancient Rome and faint traces of the artistic mosaics that once engulfed the premises still remain.
2. Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti – Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are a great place to sit and enjoy a delicious gelato while taking in the bustling crowd of locals and tourists alike. Constructed in the early 1700’s by a little-known architect, Francesco De Sanctis, the steps were a symbolic connection between the newly-built Trinità dei Monti, French church, and the Piazza di Spagna, Spanish Plaza. The construction of the 135-steps represented the newly-established peace between France and Spain.
Tip: If you would like to enjoy the Steps for yourself without a busy crowd, try to visit early in the morning. The Steps are most crowded between 10 AM – 1 AM.
3. Musei Vaticani – Vatican Museums of Vatican City
Home of the famous Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums are a must-see. The collection of museums house over 70,000 works from the Renaissance era to modern art. Notable artworks range from da Vinci, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, and countless others. This is the perfect place to get lost and find tranquility within the masterpieces.
Tip: Crowds are the norm, so plan your visit in the afternoon (last entry is 4:00 PM) – the queues and crowds will be much smaller at that time. On the last Sunday of each month, the Vatican Museums are free to the public. Otherwise, admission is 16 euros. There is a restrictive dress code for this area so be sure to dress modestly when you visit the premises of the Vatican City.
4. Outdoor Parks – Villa Borghese, Monte Mario
Aside from remarkable ancient ruins, Rome has numerous outdoor parks the public can enjoy. A visit to the park is a unique way to capture how modern Romans live in the eternal city. Villa Borghese, in particular, is immense with greenery. It is complete with 226 acres of gardens, paths, lakes, and museums. You can rent a bike for 4 euros/hour or paddleboat around the mini-island that holds a 19th-century, Greek-style temple.
Monte Mario is the highest hill in Rome so you can expect to see stunning views of the history-rich city. It is close to the city center and easily accessible by bus. Enjoy a meal or coffee at one of the markets at the peak of the hill.
5. Roman Cathedrals
Rome, being that it hosts the Vatican City and home to the Highest Priest since the beginning of Christianity, is abode to a plethora of jaw-dropping cathedrals. The Basilica di Maria Maggiore is Rome’s oldest church built around AD 440 and solely dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Every inch of the cathedral is an artifact of history and art – from the 18th-century Baroque façade and to 5th-century mosaics that mount over the altar. Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (pictured above) is one of Rome’s few Gothic-style churches. It was built in the 15th-century upon the ruins of three ancient temples; Roman goddess, Minerva, the Egyptian goddess, Isis, and Greco-Egyptian god, Serapis. The cathedrals are well respected, and you can enjoy peace and quiet while grasping the extraordinary details of the architecture.
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